Thursday, June 25, 2009

I love being proven wrong

I recently met with E., a veteran of one of my writing classes, fresh back from a semester abroad, to sign the paperwork for her fall internship. Afterwards, I realized that, once again, I had been totally wrong in my advice to students about careers.

E. is intent on a career in fashion writing--as are, let's face it, a gajillion other females between the ages of 15 and 25.

A few years ago, when she started talking about this dream, I, of course, tried to crush it.

Hey, I merely did the math:
gajillion people want to do something + maybe a few thousand, at most, openings in said field, all of which filled by babyboomers who aren't going anywhere = you want fries with that?
I gave her the pitch I give the guys who want to host their own shows on ESPN: broaden out your interests and expertise areas, and have a backup plan or three, because you don't stand a prayer.

Unless. You build your knowledge base and resume in any and every way you can while you're still at UMass. (You wanna write about food? Get up to the 22rd floor of DuBois and read every food book up there. Start with MFK Fisher.)

E. did it by writing a fashion blog of her own, writing a fashion column for the Collegian, applying for (and winning) a trip to a special weekend workshop at Teen Vogue, heading to Paris for a semester and learning all she could, including fluent French. (And this is just the stuff I know about.) She also worked hard in class, pushing herself to get better at interviewing, and the nuts and bolts of reporting.

And she went beyond the traditional fashion outlets to find new opportunities in new media. Her internship is with videofashion.com, a company that films fashion shows and other events and produces fashion-centered content for a variety of outlets.

She's excited about the future, and I'm excited for her. Also, I'm glad to be wrong.

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